Leadership Circle has begun the process of assessing how our current model is working, so that we are well prepared to make decisions prior to December. With input from both Phil and Carrie, Leadership Circle is moving in the direction of continuing our current model of two full-time pastors. We think that the budget can sustain this model and that having two full-time pastors is serving us well.
Leadership Circle is moving in the direction of continuing Carrie in a position of Associate Pastor. We affirm the work Carrie has been doing and are confident that she and Phil will continue to work well together.
This is your opportunity to influence decisions that Leadership Circle will be making on the congregation’s behalf sometime this summer or early fall, decisions about what additional opportunities for congregational input are helpful and the final decisions about the pastoral model and who the personnel are in that model.
The following video is from the congregational meeting on May 7, 2023. The video features Ray Person, Rita Dietrich, and Phil Yoder presenting information about our past and current Pastoral Leadership model as we make a decision later this year on the Interim Associate Pastor position that we currently have. Members are invited to complete this survey, either by paper copy which can be picked up at the church office or printed here and dropped off in the designated box in the church office, or by submitting the online survey. Survey responses will be collected through June 5.
MEETING DISCUSSION RESPONSES
QUESTION ONE: What thoughts do you have for the direction Leadership Circle is heading with a pastoral leadership model of two full time pastors, lead and associate? For this question, think about the model itself, not the people who are currently serving in this model. Try to separate the model from what Phil and Carrie are actually doing.
One table affirmed the lead pastor/associate pastor model but noted that it was difficult to separate the model from the people serving in it. The current model is working, and if it’s working, we should keep it.
One table discussed the model and the proportion of the budget. Given our church and the size of the congregation, having two pastors seems appropriate, though it might be prudent to discuss whether or not that is actually enough. The table felt good about the model.
One table felt it was an impossible question to discuss the model without the people, and gave two reasons. One, that it would be very stressful to attempt to select other people for the roles of the people serving now. The current people we have are doing a good job in their many and varied roles. Two, over the past two to two and a half years, a great deal of preaching talent has been drawn from the congregation, and this is a resource unique to this congregation. Over the 14 months when Mark Suderman was serving as church administrator, there were only two or three Sundays when we didn’t have someone from the congregation preaching. This is why it is difficult to think of this question in the abstract.
Another group affirmed the model’s structure and appreciate that the titles are “Lead” and “Associate” instead of “Youth” because that allows the two individuals to negotiate responsibilities, and the structure allows for this flexibility.
Another group asked a related question about church staffing, with respect to the custodian position being difficult to fill if no benefits were offered with that position. A representative of the Staff Relations committee clarified that the group healthcare plan to which FMC subscribes does not allow plan benefits for a half-time employee. The minimum is 0.75 time. It was noted that we did offer benefits for half time positions in 2019, but the plan requirements have since changed.
QUESTION 2: What thoughts do you have with the direction Leadership Circle is heading toward a model of Phil Yoder as Lead Pastor and Carrie Mast as Associate Pastor? Is this the right direction? This question relates in large degree to Phil and Carrie’s performance as a pastoral team, but Leadership Circle recognizes that this is not typically the way we evaluate performance.
One table affirmed the model we have now but wondered if we are setting Carrie up for failure and/or burnout with all of her strengths and her willingness to say yes to so many things. Other tables affirmed this concern.
A parent affirmed Carrie’s work with FMC’s youth and is glad that her children are growing up in FMC under Carrie’s care. She shared a story of Carrie helping to talk through an anxious matter with her child in a helpful way.
One table affirms the model and urged Leadership Circle to identify responsibilities clearly. Carrie and Phil have gifts in so many things and it will be important for clarity in who is “lead” for various responsibilities. The speaker affirmed having “youth” in a person’s title so that the youth have a clear person to which to gravitate. Ray noted that Staff Relations Committee will have an important role as we move forward, to review and refine job descriptions, and related work in the process.
Another table liked that positions are not clearly defined because that gives the pastors more flexibility to work together to determine their respective strengths. Ray shared that Leadership Circle wants there to be balance in pastoral service on Circles and committees. Phil shared that while there are times when having a point person is necessary, he and Carrie are both everyone’s pastors.
One table noted that, after all the talk about pastoral service to youth, it was not clear to the speaker who was doing visitations with church elders.
Another table raised a practical question about how best to communicate to pastoral staff that someone needs pastoral care. Phil responded that he and Carrie always are interested in receiving referrals, and that while the demographics he and Carrie represent allow for diversity in who can best respond, Phil encouraged those seeking pastoral care to ask for who they want. Phil confirmed that he is coordinating pastoral care, and if he becomes aware of a need, he addresses it, or if it’s something that Carrie can address, she does so. Phil wants to be sure that pastoral care is not spread too thin. When asked if the Deacons were also involved in providing pastoral, Phil affirmed that and also noted the options with both the Caring Connections ministry and the Pastoral Care resource list available in the office. Phil affirmed that it is always okay to just contact him and he can direct care as needed. Murmurings from the crowd suggested that the process to request and/or receive pastoral care may not be clear. Ray noted that many individuals from the congregation have provided pastoral care for many years, but this care provision hasn’t always been formalized. Ray noted that FMC leaned heavily on this model of pastoral care during the pastoral transition time, and that we should continue it.
QUESTION 3: What other comments/ questions/ concerns do you want to express? Is there something else Leadership Circle needs to know or consider as we move forward with these decisions?
A table asked where Carrie is in the process toward ordination. Ray responded that Carrie is currently licensed for ministry; she would not be licensed for ordination while in an interim position If we appoint her to a permanent position, then we could begin the licensing toward ordination.
No additional comments, questions, or concerns were shared at this point in the meeting.
Ray explained the process going forward. A survey containing these same three questions was distributed to each table. Members are invited to complete this survey, either by paper copy which can be picked up at the church office or printed here and dropped off in the designated box in the church office, or by submitting the online survey. Survey responses will be collected through June 5.
One table noted that a sense of affirmation has emerged from the meeting, and if one is in agreement with affirming this direction, is it necessary to respond to the survey? Will a lack of survey responses be seen as a movement against this direction? Ray responded no, not necessarily, but he urged all to respond to the survey, saying that it would be helpful to have all responses, especially from those who may not have felt comfortable speaking up in this meeting or from those who could not attend. Leadership Circle has made their direction clear, but Ray remarked that that fact could inhibit discussion about concerns for that direction
When asked if the CDC and/or conference minister was involved in this process, Ray responded that they would be involved if we were conducting a formal search. Doug Luginbill is a member of FMC and so is involved in that context and can provide feedback. Phil noted that he had contacted Doug (in Doug’s role as conference minister), and Doug affirmed that this decision-making can happen within the church.
When asked if a congregational vote would happen at the end of the process, Ray replied that yes, if we are calling a full time pastor, then that would be affirmed by congregational vote.